Content is the foundation of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
You likely already know it. You’ve likely already read it in a thousand articles like this one.
But that’s because it’s so important. If the foundation of your house is cracked or misaligned, it’s going to compromise the structural integrity of your house. And if the foundation of your content strategy is similarly damaged or misaligned, you can’t expect to see meaningful SEO results.
But how do you gauge the health of your content strategy?
To gauge the health of your house’s foundation, you’ll need to spend a few hours taking a close look at your walls, floors, ceilings, and exterior to identify signs of cracks, warping, or bending.
To gauge the health of your SEO strategy’s foundation, you’ll need to conduct a content audit for your law firm.
Okay. What the hell does that mean?
What Is a Content Audit?
What exactly is a content audit for a law firm?
Put simply, it’s an exercise designed to help you closely examine the quality and purpose of all the content on your website. By the end of the audit, you should have a much better idea about what content you have, how good that content is, how it’s performing, and how it aligns with your business goals.
With this information, you can take action.
That means removing old, poor quality, and misaligned pieces of content from your website. It means enhancing or realigning pieces of content that, while good, aren’t reaching their true potential. It means promoting your best content. And it means generating better ideas for developing content in the future.
Think of it like a home inspection. In a home inspection, your goal is to find anything and everything wrong with the house so you can have it fixed or addressed.
Good inspectors always find something wrong, because no house is perfect. So no matter how good you feel about your SEO and content strategy, expect your content audit to find at least a few things you can improve.
Why Should Your Law Firm Conduct a Content Audit?
Why should your law firm spend time, money, and effort on a content audit?
Don’t you have better things to do?
Content audits give you a path to use objective evidence to:
- Analyze content performance. How is your content performing? The best content on your website should rank highly in search engines, engage with users in meaningful ways, attract many backlinks and lots of traffic, and ultimately capture more conversions. The worst content on your website may have no meaningful traffic or links whatsoever.
- Identify weak points and potential harm. Content isn’t always a good thing. Low-effort or misaligned content can harm your authority, ultimately serving as a detriment to your SEO strategy. It can also distract or interfere with your desired customer journey.
- Generate new ideas. In the course of learning how your best and worst posts are performing, and studying more about the average customer journey, you’ll have a platform for generating new and better ideas.
- Realign content strategy with business goals. Content audits give you an opportunity to tighten up your content strategy, ultimately realigning your content with your business goals. Irrelevant content or content that deviates from your main goals can be eliminated or improved once identified.
It’s a data-driven strategy that takes the guesswork out of content development and SEO. If you use the data you find intelligently, and make a genuine effort to improve results, you should see:
- Higher search engine rankings. Your improved content should rise in search engine rankings, and your worst content should no longer drag you down.
- More traffic. Higher search engine rankings and better promotional effort leads to more traffic.
- More links. Better content and better distribution leads to more links.
- More conversions. Part of your content audit is analyzing conversions, so with the right optimization strategies, you can boost those conversions.
How to Conduct a Content Audit
Now for the most important part: how do you actually conduct a content audit?
Many law firms turn to the help of an SEO agency or a marketing consultant to carry out this work smoothly and efficiently. But if you’re going to do the work yourself, these are the steps you’ll need to follow:
- (Optional) Conduct a keyword analysis. Using a keyword research tool, conduct a keyword analysis. Take a look at all the keywords you’re ranking for, all the keywords your competitors are ranking for, and the gaps between you. This is an excellent reminder of the keyword optimization work you’ve already done, and a guideline to inform you on where your SEO strategy might be falling short. Pay especially close attention to unsatisfactory keyword rankings for keywords associated with strong, anchor pieces of content on your website; this could be a sign that something is wrong with your content.
- (Optional) Generate a backlink profile. Similarly, you should generate a backlink profile to better understand how many links are pointing to your site, where those links are coming from, and which pages those links are pointing to. You’ll need backlink information to make better decisions for your content.
- Generate a list of pages. Generate a list of pages of your website so you can analyze them. You can do this using any basic sitemap tool, or you can use a more advanced tool like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog to crawl your website and provide you with even more details. There’s a bit of a learning curve when using technical SEO tools like these, but you’ll end up with much more comprehensive data to work with, all in one place.
- Import data on traffic, links, and conversions. Depending on your approach, you may already have access to data on traffic, links, and conversions associated with each of your web pages. Otherwise, you’ll need to import this data so you can use it to judge each individual page. These are your “Holy Grail” metrics – the keystones that dictate whether a piece of content is performing optimally or suboptimally. If your content doesn’t have any links, doesn’t generate traffic, and doesn’t generate conversions, it’s functionally useless. If it has a ton of links, a ton of traffic, and a high conversion rate to boot, it’s a rock star that should be left alone.
- Categorize each page in terms of performance. Using these data, attempt to categorize each of your pages in terms of overall performance. You can come up with your own categorization system, but we tend to categorize content in one of four categories: functionally useless, in need of transformation, in need of tweaking, and good as is. If a piece of content doesn’t have any meaningful traffic, links, or conversions, or if it doesn’t fit into your overall SEO goals, it should probably be deleted or completely overhauled. If a piece of content has some meaningful traffic and links, but isn’t performing well, it needs to be gutted or transformed. If a piece of content has significant traffic, links, and conversions, but it’s coming up short in some respects, it should be on the docket for optimization. And if you’re satisfied with the piece of content, there’s no reason to change it just for the sake of changing it.
- Denote contextually important details. Objective data is incredibly valuable for bypassing cognitive biases and guiding you to better decisions, but it’s also important to denote any contextually important details. For example, there may be a piece of content on your website that doesn’t see a lot of activity, but if it’s a crucial part of your customer journey in some respect, it might be worth keeping.
- Review. Once you’ve collected all this information, you’ll need to thoroughly review it. Some of your pieces of content won’t be easy to categorize, so you’ll need to manually analyze them and come up with an assessment.
Once you properly understand how each piece of content on your website is performing, you can decide what to do with those pieces of content.
For bad, borderline irredeemable pieces of content, these are some of your best options:
- Delete and redirect. If the page has no redeeming qualities, you might as well delete it. Sometimes, law firm marketers fall into the trap of thinking that “content is content,” and any post is worth keeping. But this isn’t really the case; bad content is worse than no content. In some cases, deletion is not only appropriate, but the best possible move. If you want to preserve any traffic headed to the old page, be sure to set up a 301 redirect to a new, relevant page.
- Update. Sometimes, content falls flat because it becomes out of date or gradually drifts into irrelevance. If this is the case, the content may only need a simple update. Adding new pieces of data, optimizing for a different set of keywords, or updating the structure for modern audiences could be all you need.
- Expand. You can also expand the piece of content if it’s thin or short. Explore new sections, cover your argument more comprehensively, add more photos and videos, and generally work to make the piece more comprehensive and interesting.
- Narrow. Another option is to narrow your focus. Sometimes, the root cause of the content problem is attempting to target too general of an audience or covering a topic that’s too broad. You may also run into keyword cannibalization issues if you’re covering a topic that’s already suitably covered by another post on your website. If you suspect this is the case, try to hone the article so it focuses on a more niche topic, with a more specific keyword.
- Combine. You can’t justify keeping the page up, but you want to preserve some of the content you’ve already written, consider incorporating this content into another, more powerful page. You can take several smaller, worse-performing pages, and assemble them together, Voltron-style, into a bigger, more comprehensive page – or you can take this underperforming content and directly inject it into a keystone post that’s already performing well. Just make sure to edit and polish the final piece of work for clarity, consistency, and relevance.
For pieces of content that are good, but require improvement, consider these:
- Augment. One simple solution is to augment what you already have. You can add a new section, incorporate content from other, lower-performing pieces, or even target new secondary keywords in the body of the piece.
- Reformat or reconfigure. You can also reformat or reconfigure the post. Depending on the context, that could mean taking a pair or related, suitably performing posts and combining them into one, breaking a post that’s too long down into more favorable constituent components, or simply rearranging your sections and tweaking the core content.
- Optimize for SEO. If you’re happy with the function, overall writing, and topical relevance of the post, the solution may be to optimize the piece for SEO more specifically. That means including more relevant keywords, tweaking the structure and readability for user experience, and fixing any technical problems that you find. Attracting or building more links to the page can also boost its SEO potential – but at that point, we’re drifting away from core content optimization.
- Optimize for conversions. If you’re seeing plenty of traffic, but the page isn’t generating as many conversions as you’d like, the preferred solution is optimizing for conversions. There are countless strategies that can help you here, from including more prominent and persuasive calls to action (CTAs) to including more photos of human beings. No matter what, you’ll need to spend some time experimenting with AB tests to figure out which tactics work best for your target demographics. Every industry (and every audience) has a different set of variables to consider – and you won’t know for sure what works until you try it.
- Promote. If you love how this page is performing and you want it to perform even better, your best option is likely promotion. Distribute this content across social media, build more links to it, or consider paying for advertising. If you’re confident in its ability to capture meaningful attention and conversions, you’ll benefit from reaching a wider audience.
Once you’ve addressed all problematic pieces of content on your website currently, you can use the data you gathered in your content audit to forge a new plan for the future of your SEO strategy.
Which strategically relevant keywords should you target with your newest pieces of content?
Where are the gaps in your content strategy and how can you close them?
What makes your best pieces of content so successful, and how can you replicate that success?
Why were so many pieces of content on your website underperforming, and how can you avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
How Often Should Law Firms Audit Their Content for SEO?
So, how often should a law firm conduct a content audit for SEO?
Unsurprisingly, the answer is going to vary. It depends on how frequently you publish content, how much you’re investing in SEO, and how much competition you face. In general, the more content you publish, the more you care about SEO, and the more competition you have, the more frequently you should conduct content audits.
Most law firms can get away with only conducting a content audit once a year. More aggressive strategies may dictate a content audit once a month, or even more frequently. Unless SEO is a backburner, secondary strategy for your law firm, it’s unwise to go more than a year without analyzing your content.
Do you keep in mind that not all of your content audits need to be as thorough and comprehensive as your first one; once you have a better idea of your content goals and a solid system for categorizing and reviewing content, you can conduct smaller, more focused content audits on a more frequent basis. Think of these as a mini “checkup,” rather than a full-scale review.
A content audit can help your law firm truly understand how your content is performing, and how it fits with your SEO pricing and budget and high-level business goals. The audit itself can provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of the content of your website and a host of objective metrics you can use to judge that content. From there, it’s on you to appropriately categorize and tune your content strategy to perfection.
It’s possible even for SEO amateurs to conduct this kind of analysis, and to take action on it in a meaningful way. Even so, it’s time consuming and it’s easy to miss important details if you’re not experienced. That’s why many law firms turn to the help of an SEO agency to help them conduct their first content audit. If you’re in the market for a content audit of your own website, or if you just need help developing a more competitive law firm SEO strategy to attract more clients, contact us for a free consultation today!
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